The collective efforts of two cricket sides and a pool lifeguard helped save the life of a man who collapsed during a match at Raymond Terrace last weekend.
Robert Mathew, a Hinton Cricket Club player, suffered a severe heart attack while fielding in a Maitland & District Cricket Association C-grade game at Lakeside Sports Complex near Grahamstown Dam on Saturday.
Players from the two teams, Hinton and Seaham cricket clubs, rushed to the 52-year-old’s aid and began immediate CPR.
Their efforts, along with a lifeguard from nearby Lakeside Leisure Centre who used the pool’s defibrillator, were instrumental in keeping the father of four alive before paramedics arrived.
Teammate and best friend, Chris Parkinson, was one of the first to administer first-aid. Mr Parkinson emotionally recounted the incident to the Newcastle Herald, describing the heart-wrenching moments after his mate dropped to the ground.
“Bob and I have known each other for 25 years,” he said. “I was standing at cover and Bob was at fine leg, and some of the scorers’ just yelled out. We saw him down, and I was like a flash – I think it was the fastest I’d ever run.
“We rolled him over [and] it was obvious there was something wrong. He started to vomit and not breathe properly. When he went blue, I just panicked ... I just panicked. There was a couple of other guys who took over.”
We got to him as quick as we could; he was in a real bad way.Adam Cooper, Hinton Cricket Club secretary
“We got to him as quick as we could,” Hinton Cricket Club secretary Adam Cooper said. “He was in a real bad way. We got onto triple zero; a young bloke from Seaham called triple zero and had the operator there telling us what to do.”
Quick-thinking from one of the cricketers made for a mad dash down to the nearby pool, where Belgravia Leisure lifeguard Stephen Amess was preparing to close for the day.
“I was packing up and a man came running in saying ‘I need a defib, I need a defib’, so we jumped in his car and went down to the incident,” Mr Amess said.
“When I saw they were already doing compressions, I knew I’d be putting my training into a real-life situation.”
Mr Amess, a career-lifeguard, ran the automatic defibrillator process with the cricketers’ assistance.
Paramedics arrived on the scene soon after along with the helicopter medical staff. Mr Mathew was taken by road to John Hunter Hospital where he remains in intensive care in an induced coma.
However, Hinton’s players have told how the incident could have been far worse, had it not been for a lucky string of events.
“We were supposed to play at Seaham, that’s the first piece of luck,” best mate Chris Parkinson said of the ground change that occurred a few days beforehand.
“The second piece of luck is someone to have the coolness of head to go: ‘there’s a defibrillator right there, we can see the pool’, and then the lifeguard coming … so there’s more luck.
“None of that would have happened at Seaham. And then the helicopter being on its way back from another job, it landed two minutes after the ambulance got there.
“There’s a lot of lucky things that have happened.”
Before the game, Mr Mathew even put his hand up to sit-out as the side had too many players. Had he done so and left early, it is likely he would have been on his own when the attack occurred.
His daughter, Morgan Mathew, told the Herald her father’s condition was slowly on the improve after he responded to commands from hospital staff on Wednesday morning. She read a statement on behalf of the family thanking those involved.
“We’re very grateful for the quick actions of the cricket teams from Hinton and Seaham, the staff at the Lakeside Leisure Centre and the emergency services personal,” she said.
“We would also like to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit Dad and offer support.”
The Maitland & District Cricket Association have offered to fund counselling for any of the cricketers involved on the day.
A GoFundMe page titled ‘Raise a glass for Bobby’ has also been established to help with Mr Mathew’s recovery.